AFP, January 27, 2010
Four in five Germans oppose Afghanistan troop hike: poll
“When asked whether they personally supported the German soldiers’ deployment, nearly half (49 percent) said no”
Nearly 80 percent of Germans oppose Berlin’s plans to hike the number of troops in Afghanistan, according to a poll released Wednesday on the eve of a major international conference. Four out of five Germans said they disagreed with a stronger military role for Berlin in Afghanistan, the survey by the independent polling institute Forsa indicated.
Breaking with a military tradition of keeping silent about policy, a top German general has branded his country's efforts in Afghanistan a failure, singling out its poor record in training the Afghan police and allocating development aid.Even among supporters of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Union, 77 percent said they objected to adding soldiers to the 4,300-strong force now in the war-ravaged country. Among members of the junior partner in the ruling centre-right coalition, the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP), the rate was even higher, at 86 percent. The survey revealed very shallow support for the Afghan mission. “When asked whether they personally supported the German soldiers’ deployment, nearly half (49 percent) said no,” Forsa said. In a troubling sign for Merkel, who pledged Tuesday to send another 500 troops to Afghanistan with a reserve force of 350 soldiers and begin a withdrawal in 2011, 36 percent of conservative voters and nearly half of FDP voters said they opposed the mission. Forsa found the number of Germans calling for an immediate withdrawal from Afghanistan to be “surprisingly high” at 32 percent. Around one in four — 24 percent — called for pullout by the end of 2011, 14 percent wanted a deadline for the end of the mission in 2015 while 25 percent said German troops should remain in Afghanistan longer if still needed. In Germany, where the horrors of World War II still colour the debate on military missions, all parties in parliament with the exception of the far-left Die Linke support the eight-year-old Afghan deployment to varying degrees. The poll was conducted a week before Merkel’s announcement to boost troop levels, on January 20-21, among 1,002 German citizens with a margin of error of three points. A conference in London Thursday on mapping out the way forward in Afghanistan will bring together foreign ministers from 60 countries including US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
The comments came from General Hans-Christoph Ammon, head of the army's elite special commando unit, or KSK, whose officers are in Afghanistan fighting alongside U.S. forces against Al Qaeda and the Taliban.
Herald Tribune, Nov. 30, 2008
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